Health care and COVID are top issues for voters with disabilities
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Oct. 30, 2020) – The nation’s leading disability services organization has released its “Easterseals’ State of Voters with Disabilities Survey,” which finds this vital subset of the general population politically active, engaged and enthusiastic about voting this year, with more than 30 million expected to vote by Election Day.
The survey sheds new light on the political clout of the nation’s largest, most diverse and increasing group of eligible voters — and was conducted among a nationally representative sample of adults with disabilities, Oct. 20-25, by Pathfinder Opinion Research.
To date, 89% of people with disabilities are registered, with some 47% (or 15.9 million people) already voted, and another 49% noting they “definitely” or “probably” will vote in this election (or 16.5 million people). Interest is high within the disability community, with more than half saying they are “extremely enthusiastic” about voting, and 65% noting they’re more enthusiastic about voting in this election, as compared to previous elections. A recent report by Rutgers University is reinforcing, estimating eligible voters with disabilities have grown by at least 19.8% since 2008, if not more.
Overwhelmingly, people with disabilities are not satisfied with the current performance of their elected officials. And, as a result, fully two-thirds of those surveyed give them a negative performance rating when it comes to addressing the most pressing issues of the disability community.
Americans with Disabilities Moved by Health Care and COVID-19
Health care and COVID-19 are, by far, the two top issues driving voters with disabilities to the polls. All other issues, such as crime, public safety, immigration, employment, the environment and the Supreme Court, rank far lower in importance.
“This election is particularly consequential for millions of Americans with disabilities. The presidency, control of the Senate and oral arguments around the Affordable Care Act are all to be determined over the next two weeks,” said Easterseals President and CEO Angela F. Williams. “With all that’s at stake, and the fact people with disabilities are concerned about health care and federal and state officials’ response to COVID-19, it’s not surprising that they’re voting in droves.”
Americans with Disabilities Support Across Party Lines
Regardless of political party or leaning, voters with disabilities expressed deep support for:
- Protecting key components of the Affordable Care Act (ACA): those elements impact their daily lives in concrete ways, including maintaining coverage for pre-existing conditions (97%), allowing kids to stay on their parents’ insurance through age 26 (78%), supporting Medicaid/Medicare expansion (87%) or eliminating life-time insurance caps (91%); and, also
- Strengthening constitutional protections against discrimination on the basis of disability (79%). A majority of Americans with disabilities also favor these protections for other segments of the population, whether on the basis of sex (70%)/gender identity (60%) or sexual orientation (60%).
As a voting bloc, people with disabilities account for approximately 38 million voting-age adults — outnumbering eligible voters who are Black (30 million) and Hispanic (32 million), according to Pew Research Center — yet they are often under-represented or face barriers to participating in the country’s political process. In this competitive election, these survey findings suggest potentially millions of Americans with disabilities will be unable to vote because of a lack of accessible accommodations and added concerns for their health and safety during a pandemic.
- More than one quarter of voters with disabilities who have not yet cast their ballot say they may not vote this year due to concerns about being exposed to COVID-19 — a possible 4.8 million voters; and,
- Nearly one third (31%) of voters with disabilities require some type of accommodation to cast their vote; of those approximately 10.5 million voters who require a voting accommodation, a measurable portion (17%) say their local election officials provide inadequate accommodations for their disability.
Despite the barriers they may face, “the disability community is galvanizing around this election and making sure their voices are heard at the ballot box. They are showing up to be counted by whatever accessible means necessary,” Williams added.
Review the full “Easterseals’ State of Voters with Disabilities” report and key findings developed in partnership with Easterseals Southern California and Pathfinder Opinion Research. The survey expands upon the nonprofit organization’s ongoing social campaigns including “We Are the 25,” urging voters with disabilities to ensure they are well-represented at the polls and included in all facets of community life.
Methodology Statement: Easterseals’ State of Voters with Disabilities Survey
These findings represent the results of a survey conducted by Pathfinder Opinion Research from October 20-25, 2020 among n=800 adult Americans with disabilities. Interviews were conducted online utilizing a national research panel. Each respondent indicated having at least one of the disability types used by the Census to categorize disabled persons (hearing, vision, cognitive, ambulatory, self-care, or independent living difficulties). Data were weighted by gender, age, race, education and geographic region based on the American Community Survey’s population characteristics of Americans with disabilities. Within the full sample of adult Americans with disabilities is a subset of registered voters (n=713) and registered voters who are likely to vote in the upcoming Presidential election (n=683).
Easterseals has served as an indispensable resource for individuals with disabilities, veterans, seniors and their families for more than 100 years. Together, its 67 affiliates in communities nationwide serve 1.5 million people annually through high-quality programs, including autism services, early intervention, workforce development and adult day care. Driven by its purpose to change the way the world defines and views disability, Easterseals makes profound, positive differences in people’s lives every day. Learn more at easterseals.com.
About Easterseals Crossroads
As one of 68 Easterseals affiliates, Easterseals Crossroads has been helping individuals with disabilities and special needs, and their families, live better lives for over 80 years. Whether helping someone improve physical mobility, return to work or simply gain greater independence for everyday living, Easterseals Crossroads offers a variety of services to help people with disabilities address life’s challenges and achieve personal goals. We provide top-quality, family-focused and innovative services tailored to meet the specific needs of the individuals we serve. For more, visit eastersealscrossroads.org.
About Pathfinder Opinion Research
Pathfinder Opinion Research is a national public opinion research firm serving non-profit, issue advocacy, corporate, public affairs, and political clients who need a sound measure of public opinion and strategic advice on how to turn research into action.